Arts & Entertainment

New Jersey’s Scariest Haunted House Explores Virtual Reality

The increasingly popular Bane Haunted Attraction is officially open until Oct. 31. Credits: Danielle Santola

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Known throughout New Jersey for having the largest indoor haunted house and the largest, most intricately designed “Escape” rooms in the state, Bane Haunted House, located at 630 W. Mt. Pleasant Avenue in Livingston, is now delving into virtual-reality attractions.

According to owner Jennifer Condron, who first started Bane Haunted House in the parking lot of the Livingston Mall and now resides in a 40,000-square-foot facility on Route 10 that is open year-round, Bane is on its way to having the first untethered virtual-reality Escape Game in the country. By fall of next year, Condron said she hopes to launch a full virtual-reality haunted attraction as well. 

“There is nobody else in the entire state that does what we are going to do,” she said. "It's surreal because it's difficult to take a business that was in a 4000-square-foot tent, and in less than six years be in a 4000-square-foot space on Route 10. It's definitely an accomplishment. We grow every year, but this year we are talking about bigger space, multiple locations—so our future definitely has a lot of expansion in it, especially with the virtual reality.”

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Bane currently offers a single-player virtual-reality attraction, but intends to introduce a multi-player version in January, where participants will be able to see their friends playing right in the same room with them. Bane recently partnered with Rowan University for this ambitious endeavor.

The increasingly popular Bane Haunted Attraction officially opened on Sept. 22 and will remain open until Oct. 31.

In addition to its nightly haunted house hours, Bane also offers a “Happily Haunted” event on Sundays that is geared toward children under 12 years old. Since the zombies are sleeping from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the children do not experience a scary walkthrough. In fact, they are even offered a flashlight as they venture through the house.

"What sets us apart is that we are not your typical haunted attraction,” said Condron. “And anyone will tell you that, from our competitors to our customers.”

Condron said that many of “your everyday haunted houses” are very theatrical—with dramatic lighting and set design, pristine makeup and remarkable costumes. In comparison, she said, “Bane is something that's going to blow your mind.”

“We are extremely immersive and we are a little aggressive,” she said. “We will touch you, make you jump, crawl, slide, spin, lay on your belly—we’ll put you in an environment that will make you extremely uncomfortable and you're going to want to get out as fast as you can. We're not very pretty, we don't have the best sets or the best makeup or the best costumes, but I guarantee you will leave shaking in your boots."

From the more tentative guests, Condron said the most common question she hears is whether they need to separate.

“The answer is yes, at some point you will be alone and it is mandatory,” said Condron. "We are actually the only haunted house that does something like that. You'll go to another haunted house and 40 people go in at the same time as you, and it kind of ruins the scare—so we are the only haunted house that I know of in the country that lets you in only two or three at a time."

She did, however, guarantee that any guest who comes to Bane with an open mind and doesn’t yell “Mercy” will leave with a smile.

"If you come to Bane and you don't want to get scared don't come,” she said. “If you don't want to enjoy yourself and come to an immersive attraction, then Bane is not the place for you. But I guarantee if you do at least try it, you'll have a great time."

According to Condron, part of what makes Bane Haunted Attraction more frightening than its competitors is that everything within it is completely live action and strictly organic, meaning that there are no animatronics involved and the scenes include real products—from the trees down to the dirt. The actors within the haunted house are also real people with a real knack for scaring people, she said.

Nearly 50 percent of the actors are veterans that have been with Bane since its inception in 2011. The other actors come from near and far and are found through many sources, including about three-to-four auditions every year.

"It's pretty much anyone who wants to get away for the night, forget about their stresses in life and just scare people for a living," said Condron. “You are paying top dollar for us to give you a top-dollar show.”

The Star Ledger has named Bane Haunted House the “Scariest Haunted House in New Jersey” for three-consecutive seasons. It has also been named No. 11 in the country by The Scarefactor.

Bane Escape games, where guests are given one hour to complete their mission to escape by solving puzzles and clues provided by the game master, are offered 365 days of the year and are available for birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties and more.

Escape rooms are based on difficulty: the “Captive” room, which is the less-difficult theme, and “Maritime Grave,” which is more of a techy room. Click HERE to learn more about each game.

When the haunted attraction closes for the season, Bane will resume its monthly “Zombie Apocalypse” events, where participants use laser-tag weapons to shoot at zombies. In November, Bane will also host its annual “Purge” event, which uses the same weapons, but in this case the Purgers shoot back. According to Condron, “people love the Purge.”

In addition to its other unique aspects, Bane Haunted House is also 100 percent handicap accessible and free to all wheelchair-ridden guests; free to all active-duty military personnel and veterans; and offers a discount to college students on Thursdays. A group discount is also offered to parties of more than 20 people.

To learn more about Bane Haunted House or to reserve tickets, click HERE

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